NEW YORK — Producer Scott Rudin and Sydney Pollack have agreed to duet on the Vikram Seth novel “An Equal Music.” They’ve set the book up at Paramount for a feature they hope Pollack will direct, if the script comes together to his liking.Rudin and Pollack shared a love of “Equal Music” and decided their companies should buy it together. Published in May by Broadway Books, “Music” is a love story about a male violinist and a beautiful pianist who never get over the love affair they had while students. Though she’s married, they fall in love again, and confront a dark secret from the past. Seth is a Calcutta-born author who has published several books of fiction and poetry. His most famous, “A Suitable Boy,” is touted as the longest single-volume of work in English at 1,349 pages. The Mirage Prods.-based Pollack just completed the Par film “Random Hearts” with Harrison Ford and is narrowing contenders for his next helming slot. Rudin is readying four major films for fall release in “Angela’s Ashes,” “Wonder Boys,” “Bringing Out the Dead” and “Sleepy Hollow,” and has mounted two imminent Broadway musicals, “Wise Guys” and “The Wild Party.” “An Equal Music” marks Rudin’s second recent major lit buy, after the producer made a deal to turn the Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Cunningham novel “The Hours” into a film. BROKEN LIZARDS IN PIC FIX: Broken Lizard, a Gotham-hatched five-man comedy troupe, has been fixed up with two TV deals, with the chance at a feature as well. The troupe, which made a pilot for NBC last spring, just signed a development deal with 3 Arts Entertainment, NBC Studios and NBC to create a show for next season. They’ve also signed a second position deal with Jersey Television/20th Television and FBC. After Jersey TV head John Landgraf made the Fox deal, Jersey Films got on the case and has teamed with George Clooney and Amy Cohen to try and set up the group’s feature script “SuperTroopers,” a comedy about state troopers stationed in Vermont, who offset their boredom by using their authority to entertain themselves. Broken Lizard’s repped in the deals by CAA and 3 Arts. ARLI$$’ GETS FIGHTING CHANCE: Last year at this time, the HBO sitcom about sports “Arli$$” wasn’t given a sporting chance at survival. But after building its ratings by about 33% in its fourth season, exec producers Mike Tollin and Robert Wuhl have been given a more positive outlook on sitcom life. Though HBO’s Chris Albrecht won’t make a final decision on the show until Labor Day, he’s ordered scripts for three episodes for another season. “Arli$$” scored a coup landing Bill Bradley for a guest stint, and in the name of equal time, hope to hatch storylines for the other White House aspirants. “We’re thinking Al Gore, George Bush, probably Elizabeth Dole, but I don’t know if we’ll go further, though a Dan Quayle-inspired episode about bad golfers is an idea,” said Tollin. The show’s picked up steam, he said, thanks to a pairing with the female-driven “Sex and the City.” “It’s the first time we’ve been on the same time and night as the season before, and there’s an unusual compatibility between two totally different shows that has drawn male viewers to them and gotten women to watch us. They’ve realized you don’t require knowledge of the sports world to understand the comedy.” FAST LANE: What do you do for an encore when your TV series “Encore, Encore” gets a quick curtain? If you’re Nathan Lane, how about four movies and a Broadway musical in rapid succession — and Great plans beyond that? Lane hopes to play the Great One himself, Jackie Gleason, in a screen bio Lane’s developing as producer with David Rubin and Stanley DeSantis. Director Neil LaBute and Jon Robin Baitz are now being wooed to direct and script. In December, Lane will be seen with Kenneth Branagh and Alicia Silverstone in Miramax’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost”; with Bette Midler in the Andrew Bergman-directed “Isn’t She Great”; and voicing a villainous cat in “Stuart Little.” He’s also starring with Nick Nolte and Emily Watson for director Alan Rudolph in “Trixie,” a pic eyed for release in December or January. Lane, who’s repped by CAA, will soon begin rehearsals for the Stephen Sondheim musical “Wise Guys,” which co-stars Victor Garber. CASTINGS: Chris Cooper, who has a showy role in the upcoming Sam Mendes-directed black comedy “American Beauty,” has just joined “Patriot,” playing Mel Gibson’s brother in the American Revolution film directed by Roland Emmerich and produced by Mutual’s Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn and Centropolis’s Dean Devlin. Cooper’s just finishing the Farrelly Brothers Jim Carrey-starrer “Me, Myself and Irene” for Fox, is repped by AMG’s Julie Yorn and Paradigm’s Michael Lazo … Ron Livingston joins Courtney Love, Norman Reedus and Keifer Sutherland in “Beat,” the indie pic in which he’ll play Allen Ginsberg. Livingston, who’ll next be seen in New Line’s “Body Shots” and the currently shooting indie “A Rumor of Angels” with Ray Liotta, is repped by Endeavor and managed by Rigberg/Roberts.
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